Blog post by Sylvester Nnyombi, Content Guru, Reach A Hand, Uganda
Phoebe Nabaweesa* was 22 years when she decided to try a family planning option mid last year. She zeroed in on the injection primarily because she had observed its impact on her best friend for quite some time. Most of which was positive- at least as far as she was concerned.
Phoebe’s friend had a good appetite, gained weight and was having sex without getting pregnant. Phoebe went to a clinic in Konge, one of the suburbs of Kampala, with a preset mind to receive the injection. Parting with 4,000UGX (Approx. $1) she received it, and that’s when all hell broke loose.
“I had a constant flow of blood from the time I got the injection. It was like having my period every day for three months!” the 23-year old factory worker in Konge narrates.
Having seen the blood flow for a month, she returned to the health facility, this time seeking medical attention. The attendants tactfully told her that the body needed time to get used to the hormones injected in it. Unfortunately, this was to span over 3 months. She also suffered constant illness over the next month after the injection-prescribed time had elapsed.
“When I saw my friend having the injection work for her, I believed it would work for me too, so I didn’t bother seeking advice from a health worker” she added.
That was her most painful miscalculation. Her biggest regret. Choosing a family planning method without the advice of a medical practitioner is not only improper, but also risky, heralding several complications to the body that may be fatal at worst.
The importance of involving a health personnel when choosing a family planning method is very cardinal to its effectiveness, and the story of Juliette Nawungu* is just another of the many testimonies that go a long way in demonstrating that fact. Across the hill from Phoebe’s work station, Juliette, then 21, decided to opt for family planning after having her second child.
“I went to a Marie Stopes clinic and after the health worker had taken me through the very many available options, we agreed that the implant was the best for me” she said.
The method cost her 50,000 UGX ( about 13 US$) and it was carefully inserted by the medical staff at the facility. Lodged in her arm, it would last 3 years. It was removed last week at the #Voices4Health community outreach in Kansanga. She is now 24 years, and is proud of the decision she made.
“Our bodies are not the same. How one may react to one family planning method is not the same way another would react to the same option. Discussing with an expert helps you to identify which one would work best for you, so you don’t regret the decision” he explained.
Phoebe has since stopped using family planning because she deems the time right to have a child. She however says that if she ever chooses to take another go, she would go to the health worker first, having taken lessons from the #Voices4Health outreach. The health personnel’s advice is the most important part in choosing an option, endeavor not to miss this step.
*All names with asterisks have been changed to enhance the privacy of the women interviewed.